Flooding Drenches Bottom Line

Friday, June 29th 2007, 2:16 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ On a typical sun-drenched June day in Oklahoma, hundreds of people crowd into the White Water Bay Water Park to beat the heat in the popular tourist attraction's pools and water rides.

But the southwest Oklahoma City water park was almost empty Friday following a record 17 straight days of rain that has kept sun worshippers indoors and washed away revenue during the traditionally bustling summer vacation season.

``Obviously, people can't come and enjoy a water park when it's pouring down rain,'' said Rainey Carter, marketing director for White Water Bay and another popular Oklahoma City amusement park, Frontier City.

While it has remained open during the unusually wet month, the only people coming to the water park these days are people who work there. Frontier City has also remained open although torrential downpours forced it to close a little early one day, Carter said.

``We obviously hope for a sunny July,'' she said.

Amusement parks are part of a diverse group of businesses whose bottom lines may be affected by heavy rains that have inundated the state throughout the month.

At the Red Carpet Car Wash, conveyors that normally pull cars and trucks through a maze of sudsy scrubbings have been motionless while the rain falls.

``The volume of cars has dwindled,'' said Cathy Roberts, general manager of Red Carpet's four locations in Oklahoma City and Midwest City. Each location will typically wash between 200 and 250 vehicles a day, but rainy days keep motorists away.

``When the sun comes out we're busy,'' Roberts said. The company offers rain checks for free washes if it rains within 24 hours after it cleans a vehicle.

But the rain has increased another part of Red Carpet's business _ vehicle detailing. Roberts said cars and trucks that have been muddied by the downpours are being brought in for meticulous cleaning inside and out.

``We are having some flooded cars come in to have the water extracted,'' she said.

Engaged couples who purchased their wedding rings at Oklahoma City jeweler B.C. Clark are praying for rain as part of the jeweler's ``Pray for Rain'' promotion.

B.C. Clark refunds newlyweds up to $5,000 of their wedding rings' cost if an inch or more falls on their big day. Four couples who are among B.C. Clark's customers plan to marry on Saturday, when the National Weather Service forecasts a 50 percent chance of rain.

That could wash away $18,000 for the jeweler. So far this year, only one couple has won this year.

``With all this rain, I would have expected more winners by now,'' said Mitchell Clark, B.C. Clark's director of marketing. ``It just hasn't hit on the right days for us yet.''

Brent Welborn, who bought a $7,000 solitaire in August for his fiance, Janey Crenshaw, said that if he wins he will use the money to pay for the couple's honeymoon in The Bahamas after their wedding in Del City.

``It kind of gives somebody an extra bonus because of the stress of planning a wedding and everything and the cost,'' Welborn said.

Rain has affected attendance at the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark for Oklahoma RedHawks home games, but only two home games have been lost to the weather.

Rain has fallen at the ballpark on 16 of the RedHawks' 41 home dates this year. RedHawks' executive director John Allgood estimated that the ballclub's field tarp has been used more than 50 times this season and groundskeeping crews have probably saved at least a dozen games.

Average attendance at RedHawks' games this year is 7,198 per game, sixth in the 16-team Pacific Coast League. At that rate, season attendance would be 518,256 _ third best in Oklahoma City's pro baseball history but also third-best in the last three seasons.